Sunday, February 14, 2010

Life........and Its Lessons........A Little More about Work

Part 1

When it came time to get Legs started under saddle after his recovery period was over, I began doing the work myself. However, I wasn't really confident that I knew enough about stallions to be doing it. I was afraid I would miss something I should have corrected that would later lead to issues.

When the halter trainer I was working for at the time suggested I take the Arabian horse to a relatively new local trainer, I was skeptical. I knew of this trainer and didn't really think he could get the job done. The halter trainer assured me this trainer was a good choice AND he suggested that I would ruin Legs if I did it myself. He also said he thought I would be able to work the training off.

I seem to be susceptible to suggestions that I don't know what I am doing. Despite the fact that I had my friend, Jean, telling me I should do the training. She is the one who started Legs in the first place. It was while he was there we discovered his injury and got the horse treated yet I didn't have the confidence in myself that Jean did. I let myself get talked into going the direction the halter trainer suggested.

I talked to this man (For future reference I will be referring to him as WT)
Since I really didn't have the money to pay for training I decided to see what he had to offer. That first conversation did not go well and I should have cut and run right there but I did not.

I must, however, take responsibility for the fact it did not go well. I told the WT about the halter trainer's recommendation including my negative response to it. I guess it put him on the defensive right from the start but it didn't stop him from telling me he would let me work off training and showing my horse. I was to work as a groom five days a week with the day starting at 8 am feeding the horses. We did not, however, put this arrangement down on paper. That was my second mistake.

Once again I agreed to hire myself out as "slave labor." This time was worse because part of the time I was expected to clean stalls. I never have agreed to this arrangement had I known stalls were part of the deal. I have an old neck injury that makes stall cleaning difficult and painful but I persevered wanting to get my horse trained and shown.

The WT didn't work horses on Monday. The horses were turned out in the arena or round pen one by one and some outside if weather permitted while stalls were cleaned and buckets washed and refilled. The process took the whole day. In the winter scrubbing all those buckets turned my hands purple on more than one occasion.

The rest of the week, the trainer arrived about 8:30 or so and marked his board for the day's work. He numbered the horses in the order he wanted to work them. All horses were also marked with either, R for ride, GD for Ground Driving or L for Lunging. Any horses marked with an L were to be lunged by the grooms. All other horses were to be tacked up appropriately for the trainer to work. After filling out the board, the trainer left to finish his breakfast I presume and usually returned around 9 to begin working horses expecting those first horses to be ready and waiting for him.

It would be good to note here the trainer had a particular methodoloy to the way he numbered those horses. The newest horse in training was number 1 and so on down the list. As a new horse arrived each horse dropped a position in priority. The only problem with that was when the WT was done for the day which was usually around 3:30, he would change the status of the unworked horses designated to be worked by him to an L for lunge. That left the remaining work for the grooms to finish up.

If your horse was farther down the list, it didn't get worked much by this trainer over time. He likes to visit either on the phone or in person and to go to lunch with visitors to the barn whenever possible. There were lots and lots of days the horses farther down the list were bitted up and lunged instead of being worked by the trainer. It was not uncommon for that to be how the most of the day went.

I was glad my horse was at the top of the list for the brief amount of time he stayed there. By the time he was down to fourth, I was glad I was there to assure my horse did indeed get the training I was working for.

It wasn't just that first conversation with the trainer that didn't go well. It seemed nearly every time I asked the trainer a question, he took offense. He seemed to think I was questioning his decisions instead of trying to clarify his instructions. I chalked this attitude up to the fact I had offended him by thinking he couldn't get the job done and tried to give him a wide berth. But this uncertainty about his reaction to me also caused me to not speak up about things I would normally have mentioned.

Legs seemed to get along with the trainer ok......... or at least that's what the WT was always telling me. To be honest I saw him have a lot of fights with my horse. One of those fights evem led to Legs falling to the ground with this guy still on his back. Luckily neither the horse nor the trainer were hurt. The WT insisted the horse caused the wreck.......and in my insecurity, I bought it. When it came to being a good advocate for my horse, this was the second time in his life that I had let Legs down.

To be continued...............

What to Do

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1 comment:

  1. While your story telling is great, I feel very sorry for you and Legs. Wish your confidence level was better at that time.